Let’s all take a pause for a moment and re-look at our new COVID reality, but first, let me preface this by saying that this is in no way a political argument for or against in-person events. Our collective reality has changed and will be changed for the foreseeable future. 2020 has seen a dramatic rise in online virtual gaming conventions. Some have been exceptionally well attended, others less so, but by all accounts successful in bringing gamers together in our time of varying social isolation.
As of writing this article, October 2020, I see several things happening around the globe that I believe will have impacts on the gaming scene for the remainder of 2020 and well into 2021, at least through quarter two, and maybe beyond into the summer convention season.
First, many areas are opening back up to some degree with varying degrees of safety precautions in place. This could lead to more in-person gaming conventions, but if that happens, there are going to be inherent risks associated with hosting in-person events. Organizers are going to have to weigh those risks regardless of where the event physically takes place. There are no guarantees that we’ll see a spike in the number of in-person conventions in these areas. I suspect many organizers may be a little “gun shy” as things are still very uncertain. What is even less sure is that for those that will be hosting in-person events, will they have enough attendance to even cover their expenses? Again, this part of that risk vs. reward decision-making process organizers will have to go through. Several in-person conventions held during the COVID pandemic were held simply because the organizers could not break their contracts without burdensome penalties. They reduced their attendance levels to meet local ordinances and only time will tell if they can financially recover.
Second, some areas are starting to see a resurgence of COVID cases and deaths. New or continued “lockdowns” are being put in place to try to mitigate a second wave. These areas are not likely to see any in-person gaming events anytime soon, and virtual events are more likely.
Lastly, as someone who is tuned in to the convention scene, this past summer’s and fall’s convention season has shown many of the largest conventions’ organizers see the value of virtual events. There is talk and hope that in 2021 and beyond that, we may see dual conventions. By this, I mean both an in-person event, but also a virtual event being held at the same time for those that cannot attend the in-person convention. GENCON is one such convention that is looking at the possibility of running a dual event in 2021, provided an in-person event is safe and feasible at that time.
Whether we like it or not, our reality has been changed by COVID, and many of us seem to be adapting quite well to a virtual gaming convention scene. I suspect we will continue to see a rise in the number of monthly virtual conventions being held worldwide. If you’re searching for an online event to attend (some free, some paid), please have a look at our Online Gaming Conventions page we maintain. If you know of one that is not on the list, please submit it to us, and we’ll add it.
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